Reporter& Farmer


No water level records yet broken, some come close

Near record-breaking lake levels have been seen in Day County this summer.

But not quite.

According to data collected from the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2011 still holds the record for high water levels on most major Day County lakes. This year came close in some spots, though.

The Water Rights Program records lake level readings at least twice a year, according to Brian J. Walch, the environmental scientist manager for the SD DENR. Those measurements, he said, are usually taken in the late spring and in the fall. Sometimes roads are impassable and staff are not able to record lake levels, he said.

Blue Dog Lake was last measured July 16 and was found to be at a level of 1,805.03 feet. The record recorded high level was June 3, 2011 at 1,805.8 feet. According to the DENR’s website, the ordinary high water mark for that lake is at 1,800.7 feet. That lake’s lowest recorded point was Sept. 21, 1988 at 1,799.2 feet.

Rush Lake was also measured July 16 and its level was recorded at 1,805.12 feet. That lake’s record high level was recorded June 3, 2011 at 1,805.75 feet. The lake’s lowest recorded level was 1,795.5 feet, which was recorded twice – once Sept. 21, 1988 and again Sept. 19, 1990.

Waubay Lake measured 1,803.27 feet July 16. But the highest the water has ever rose on that lake bed so far was July 18, 2011 when the DENR recorded a height of 1,805.36. The lake’s ordinary high level water mark is at 1,787 feet and it’s lowest recorded point was at 1,783.9 feet on two dates, Sept. 21, 1990 and May 1, 1991.

Bitter Lake measured 1,802.6 feet July 16 but the record high level water mark was set July 18, 2011 at 1,802.98 feet. In 1984, the DENR recorded that lake at 1,770.3 feet, the lowest point it’s ever been recorded and also the first recording taken of the lake.

There are currently 14 lakes the DENR are collecting lake level data for, according to Walch. He pointed out that this number may decrease if water levels raise and ask lakes merge together, or it may increase if water levels drop and a lake separates into multiple lakes.

Those lakes were originally identified for measurements back in the early 1980s, according to Walch. He said the DENR worked with GFP to identify lakes that had a significant public use interest.

A full record of yearly data collected on Day County lakes by the DENR are available online. Visit this link:

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